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Random thoughts Scribblings Work Writing

7/52 On Writing

My blog descriptor says ‘Educator, Librarian, Writer’. It’s difficult to write – the hardest thing in the world, some writers would say… and yet the easiest task to do as well, just sitting and writing. But it’s the writing of GOOD words which is difficult. The editing that goes on in the head as you write, the ‘boy oh boy this sentence is awful’ echo chamber that persists in whispering no matter how many times you mentally silence it, ask it to politely shut up, yell at it, ad infinitum.

And it’s crucial to do so. It’s not possible to edit as you draft, not effectively, anyway. You have to get the ideas out first, all of them down on paper or onto the screen, before you can decide which is good and which not so good, which needs refnining and which need discarding.

And then editing! That spectrum between the raptures of joy and the awfulness of drudgery, from the excitement of crafting your words into something amazing to the growing horror of realisation that there’s no way this thought should ever see the light of day. ‘What will people think of me?” “What does this say about the person that I am?” “They’ll see how pathetic this is and won’t like me anymore!” “Will they like this as much as I do?” “What if it’s awful and I just don’t know it?” “Will they tell me? DO I even want them to?”

Well, that’s my rant for today. My writer’s group started back this week, and I drafted it during our writing time. And a good use fo time it was!

Categories
Random thoughts Reading Writing

2/52 Home again and being introspective

I both love and loathe writing. Like the nursery-rhyme girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead: when [it] is good, it is very, very good; but when [it] is bad, it is horrid.

I was pretty excited last March though, to be so near the end of my Justine Browning journey I was ‘querying’ agents, and ‘in the trenches’. Then a hiccup regarding word counts hit – at the same time as I received a huge pile of English drafts to read and return to my high-school English classes. Enter my first overwhelming encounter with my darlings’ use of ChatGPT, and the world of AI writing.

And I lost it. All motivation. All hope of ever ‘making it’ as a published author. Because seriously, what even will the publishing industry LOOK like in ten years, with AI now here, and here to stay?

Admittedly, life also got a heap busier with my Mum deciding to separate from my Dad, but there you have it – the series of inciting incidents which brought my 2023 writing journey to a screaming halt.

But this year, I’m determined to look on the bright side. Intentionally. And I couldn’t help but laugh when “Goodwill Librarian” posted this, this week:

 

And that was all it took to shake me from my self-imposed writing paralysis. Because I could see clearly how words are important! I should know – these past school holidays I’ve read more books than I’ve read in simply AGES! Other people’s words – their viewpoint on this incredible thing we call life – has been important to me. And who’s to say that my words might indeed be important to others?

Hence this return to my poor neglected blog. To eke out some words and fling them into the ether, with nought but the hope that someone, someday, may stumble across them and read. Maybe even comment!

And even if none do, the externalisation of my thoughts into text is good for me. Straighten out my own understanding of my personal world view, as it were. And ‘there’s a spider in your bra’ is certainly so disparate a response to ‘undress me with your words’ to what I could ever conceive, that it’s good for me to realise and understand this!

I hope you smiled like I did at that meme. And have a great week, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn
Categories
Blogging challenges family anecdotes Writing

1/52 Memories, from Melbourne, with hope

And so it begins; my first blogpost of the New Year. And I’m in Melbourne, which apparently used to be called Batmania prior to being renamed back in 1837.

(And no, although it’s amusing to think of a black-winged crime fighter controlling the convicts in this area of Down Under, apparently it was named after John Batman, a leading member of the Port Philip Association and the person who negotiated a treaty with the Aboriginal elders to purchase 600,000 acres… so nothing to do with DC Comics, Inc.)

But discovering this fact the other day got me thinking about the past, and how so much of history gets forgotten, both intentionally and accidentally.

I met a lovely lady last night – my cousin’s mother-in-law. It was her 76th birthday party and our conversation had moved onto the topic of tattoos. I related the story of one of my family member’s, who’d faithfully kept a diary – until the day his girlfriend at the time found it, read it, and used it against him. Unsurprisingly, he’d decided to stop journaling, and ink his memorable events onto his skin instead. I’ve always wondered if this second method resulted in lost memories. And this saddens me.

2023 was one of those years which I’m glad has ended. And although I could blithely say “I could happily forget whole chunks of it” I know that, should I *actually* do so? Sure I’d be more free-from-pain than I am right now, but I’d also no longer be me. Our memories are what makes us who are we – and there’s lessons I learned through those painful 2023 experiences that I’m glad I won’t have to re-learn.

So here I am, starting 2024 more despondent than I can ever remember being, but intentionally trying to look for snatches of hope for a brighter year. (They *do* say when you’re down, the only way is up, right?) And hope, after all, is all we need, yes? Aren’t there a plethora of films out there whose entire premise is that hope is stronger than hate, or fear, loneliness or depression?

So that’s how I’m looking at 2024. One day at a time, one hour at a time. Trying to see the good, rather than focusing on the less-than-good of the recent past. Moving on, moving upwards. And recording it in words here on this blog, which I’m grateful to be able to do. Not everyone feels they have the luxury to record their thoughts in text, after all.

So. Here’s to a hope-full week ahead for us all, dear Reader, and I’ll see you next week 🙂
⁃ KRidwyn

PS Just cos I can: the doubledecker bus I rode from Tullarine aitport to Melbourne CBD. The last time I rode on a doubledecker was in 1980 in London!

Categories
Christianity Writing

a Christmas thought…

Christmas

the time of gifts

of family gatherings

of special food and drink

of decorated rooms and trees with lights

of little children asking Santa Claus for gifts,

of songs like Jingle Bells in well-stocked stores, of much excitement as children unpack

the full stockings they had hung up empty in hope on Christmas Eve now finding many small delights within

a whistle, cracker, orange, chocolate, or balloon before they find their gifts under the tree,

tear off the coloured paper wrap with hasty glee and happily try out the new toys they received.

 

What is the reason for our Christmas season? Why do we have a special holiday?

Why focus on spending time with family?

And why give presents and send cards to friends?

 

Do we even give such things a thought,

as we celebrate together and keep to our traditions, having parties and a massive Christmas feast?

 

Does the season bring to mind what happened when Christmas was inaugurated

some two thousand years ago?

And do we realise that the birth of Jesus is so important in human history

that we divide our time into BC and AD?

 

How unique is Jesus Christ?

Has any other man at birth

had angels in their thousands herald him in song?

Or had a special star that wise men saw which spurred them on to travel from afar

to come and worship him and bring their costly gifts fit for a king?

How could this child of poor parentage be such a threat to Herod who was king, that God told Joseph they must flee,

escape to Egypt, where Jesus was for years a refugee?

 

Did Gabriel indeed appear to Mary to announce

that, though she was a virgin, yet by God’s power upon her, she would conceive?

Did she really hear him say that the son that she would bear would be very great, and be called the Son of God,

who would reign on David’s throne forever

over an everlasting kingdom as the Prince of Peace?

 

What is the reason for our Christmas season?

Why celebrate with family, and why so many gifts?

Could it be that our holiday reflects that holy day when God gave in love to all men everywhere

the very greatest present of all time, a gift that they may choose

to receive or to refuse, His son, our Saviour,

Jesus.

*********

poem courtesy Jeanette Grimmer, December 2023

 

Categories
my novel-in-progress Writing

Stumbling…

So my querying journey ran headlong into a wall the other week. I’d been sending out query letters and the first several pages of my story for a fortnight or so, happily exploring QueryTracker and garnering rejections but expecting these as par for the course… when I stumbled across an agency website page which stated word count expectations for a variety of genres.

Blow me down but they were wanting between 35K – 80K for Middle Grade. The piece I’d poured my blood, sweat and tears into, barely tipped the scales at 27K.

Heart attack! What if the rejections I’d been getting weren’t because the agents didn’t feel like they liked my story enough… but instead were rejections out of hand due to my paltry word count? Had any of them even read my pages? Was I counting myself out of the running; doing myself and my story a disservice because the word count wasn’t hefty enough?

So I withdrew all active queries, and thought. And thought, and thought some more.

You see, I’d originally intended the story I was querying to be but the first in a 7-part series. And yes, even though I *know* it’s not wise, I’d gone blithely ahead and drafted the majority of all seven stories. And all of them were in the 27K – 33K range.

It had occurred to me within seconds of reading that page, that I could be staring down the barrel of seven rejections, based simply on word count!

After a period of grieving at the thought of my story never reaching an audience, I realised a mental re-adjustment was in order. Then it hit me.

Why did it have to be a 7-part series? What if it were a trilogy instead?

As in, Books 1, 2 and 3 becomes ‘Book 1’.

Books 4 and 5 become the sequel.

Books 6 and 7 then finish the arc as the ultimate title in the series.

Huh! Word count target achieved! So now I’m editing what *was* Book 2, which I’m hoping will become Part 2 in my newly enlarged novel.

 

Let’s see what happens when it’s done, huh? And now I’d best go: I’ve QUITE a lot of editing and polishing to do!

 

See you next month, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn
Categories
my novel-in-progress Writing

Almost there…

Well, this month was D-month! (Is that even a thing? And if not, why not? And can I make it a thing? And who even came up with the ‘D’ for ‘D-day’ anyway? And I’m really showing how much of an ignoramus I am right now, aren’t I?!)

And back to the story: my plan was to start querying my Middle Grade novel by the middle of March. Am I on track to still make that deadline? Well, yes… but it’s a long drawn out ‘yes’ so everyone knows there’s a caveat attached!

So here’s why. Amongst my drama group preparing for our performances next week and Miss 18 finishing her 100 hours on her learners and then getting her license (YAY!!!)… my computer died! And yes, I’m one of those people who says ‘I’ll back up *next* week, which of course never arrives, meaning my last back up was before Christmas, and I have done SOOOOO much editing since then!!!

In fairness to the computer, it *was* ten years old, which I’m told is a very good age. My 13 inch MacBook Air, as light as a (okay, maybe a pelican’s or an albatross’) feather, and it had never had ANY problems… even after I accidentally dropped it hard enough to dent its corner a couple of years ago; and even though I’ve let it overheat once or thrice.

But the keyboard stopped. The trackpad, screen, everything else was fine. Just no keyboard – and external keyboards (both wired and wireless) also didn’t work.

Hence: I now have a new MacBook Air. And the IT guru was able to restore my old computer using a P-RAM reset (which he did for free) so I was able to save, back up and then transfer my book baby (and all her siblings!) to my new computer. No edits lost!!!

But Scrivener had apparently undergone a new version in the years I’d been writing, so I had to buy the new version. And then my baby (and her siblings) needed updating to the new version, and I need to relearn how to do stuff on this new Scrivener which I already knew how to do on the old version, so… sigh. It’s been a bit of a set-back.

But I’m determined to send my first query letters on the 16th, so I have 10 days left to get my baby ship-shape and looking her best.

Wish me luck, dear Reader! I’ll let you know how it goes come April!

⁃ KRidwyn

Categories
my novel-in-progress Reading Work Writing

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know, it’s been 7 days already. But hey; I’ve been having a good holiday, okay?

Speaking of holidays, it’s been more of a ‘hiatus’ from this blog, hasn’t it (insert sheepish expression here). What a lovely word that is too, by the way. According to my Apple dictionary:

Hiatus, as in a ‘physical gap’, or ‘to gape’. Well, there certainly is a gaping hole in the timeline of posts on this blog! But as much as I’d like there not to be, I can’t change the past, so here’s hoping 2023 fares better for blogposts. Once a month even, perhaps?

Looking ahead, I’m also looking forward to querying again, probably around mid-March. It’s been years since dipping my toes in the querying waters, so I’m apprehensive. Well… downright terrified, truth be told. But now I’ve posted this – even if only on a sporadic blog such as this! – my brain is telling me it’s a commitment I’ll be unwilling to break. I hope…

On the reading front, I’ve challenged myself to anther 104 books this year. I absolutely LOVE that Goodreads has their ‘Reading Challenge’ function, where I can track my reading year by year. I recorded just over 110 in 2022, which I was pretty happy with. In 2023, I’m planning on the majority of those being YA, followed by MG and a smattering of adult and also non-fiction in there. Not only because those are my faves, in order, but also that’s where I’m at with the Library collection I’m trying to forge my way through at work. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned how BRILLIANT my job is, yes? Teacher Librarian for a K – 12 private school, where I get to spend the school’s money on books I know the kids will love? What can be better than that? (Well, writing full time perhaps, but that’s a scary thought right there…)

Anyway, here’s hoping all this reading I’ll be doing will help the writing some. And between the writing, the reading and the job, plus a newly-graduated daughter to help negotiate the big wide world of work and university, and two younger children completing Year 11 and Year 9 in 2023… this year’s ending will probably come around quicker than even I’m expecting! I wonder what my life will look like by then?

Well, that’s it from me, dear Reader. Have a great January and “see” you in a month!

– KRidwyn

Categories
random scribblings Scribblings teaching Work Writing

Interested?

Just a short story I wrote for my Writing Group at school. The topic was ‘Vampires’ and the challenge was a 1000 word story. Want to read it?
***

Bloodless

The clock chimed midnight. The coffin creaked open, cobwebs straining and breaking. The man inside emerged, his pale eyes glinting through the gloomy darkness. He stood, long dark hair streaming past his shoulders and onto his cape, once rich velvet but now a little moth-eaten around the edges. His coffin obviously wasn’t as air-tight now as it had once been.

The attic was empty. His heightened senses showed him that the entire house was, likewise, abandoned. No humans, no animals, not even a rodent lurking inside a wall. He smiled wanly. His vampiric scent, undetectable by humans but not by more sentient creatures, must have become noticeable during his decade-long slumber, so anything larger than an insect had fled. Still, he preferred the solitude. Bloodlust upon waking could be unbearable if blooded creatures were nearby; it was so much easier to maintain control if brain cells activated before centuries-old instinct. Intellect before everything was his philosophy; control was paramount. Hence his decision to wake today; the day to commence his plan.

He descended to the second storey of his mansion, noting instantly that not all was as he had left it. His eyes narrowed, the only outward sign of his temper flaring. A sign to those who knew him that death – much, much death – was imminent.

He took a deep breath. Yes, since he had fallen asleep, human fools had occupied the house… but his determination to overcome baser passions was strong, and he calmed his wrath within moments. The power of rational decisions over mere instinct. He quirked an eyebrow and intentionally focussed on the changes. 

Someone, years ago, had repainted, and furniture he didn’t recognise lay scattered in random fashion. The heavy curtains he’d chosen, which blocked out all view of the mountainous terrain beyond, were the only feature left untouched. Wise. It could get cold up here – not that he’d felt it once he’d been turned. Still. Whoever the interlopers had been though, they’d long since gone. It looked as though they’d been moving in when suddenly they’d been interrupted. And for whatever reason, they’d left and not returned. Curious.

He continued down to the first storey. More unusual furniture, more evidence of sudden abandonment. Dishes laid out on the dining table, ingredients prepared in the kitchen with saucepans ready on the stove – all long since left to dry up and rot. He snorted. Humans. Limited intelligence, rarely successfully utilised!

The ground floor revealed still more questions, but some answers to others – the family was here. What remained of them, anyway. Two larger skeletons were huddled together with two smaller and one canine. Amongst the jumble of bones, now stripped bare of flesh by insects, he noted that their faces had been either turned toward the main doorway, or averted from it. His brow furrowed. What had happened here? He thrust his senses out further, searching beyond the house for the logical explanation. There may not be any creatures inside – his scent had driven them away – but he knew there’d be owls hunting rodents in the forests outside, foxes stalking their prey, eyes bright despite the lack of moon.

And yet. He canted his head to one side, forcing his senses further, then still further. There was nothing. No blooded creature nearby. No sense of anything. He stopped, noticing his powers were only rudimentary due to his long fast. He’d need blood, and soon, to regain his strength.

He stepped to the main doorway. Its thick oak had stood for centuries now; he expected it would last for many more. It had withstood wars, plagues, even a siege during medieval hostilities, however it had always prevailed. The question of safety fleeted through his mind, however he dismissed it. It was well past midnight on a new moon; it was almost pitch black outside. And although vampiric sight meant everything was visible for him, he’d be unnoticeable to others. Not that there were humans outside. He tried casting out his senses again. No. Nothing and no-one in the immediate vicinity.

The sturdy metal handle felt old, and uncared for. Like his cape, it was showing evidence of age. He sighed. The bolt grated metal on metal as he unlatched the door, swinging it wide, releasing air into the house. And that’s when he noticed it.

The air was lifeless, oxygen-depleted. The forests opposite were gone. The mountains were bare; empty of everything… as far as his eyes could see. No trees, no creatures, just bare grey earth. And the sky wasn’t black anymore, stars shining brightly with the lack of a moon. No, the sky was orange, as if it were burning. The brilliant intensity of the colour hurt his eyes. By the light of the sky he stared out at this unexpected scene. It was desolate. Completely and utterly dead.

He tasted the air again, closing his eyes this time to focus his concentration. And there it was. The radiation he’d missed the first time, when he’d been astonished by the devastation before him. The air was saturated with it – so much radiation that nothing could survive except insects. He even felt his bloodless skin recoiling from its touch.

A faint buzzing nearby made him reopen his eyes. A swarm of gnats rose from the area where the forests had been, racing toward him. They’d sensed his presence when he’d opened the door perhaps? And acting purely on instinct, they’d decided he’d be a worthwhile meal.

Fear shot like a lightning bolt down his spine, and he turned to close the door – too late. The swarm was upon him, biting and tearing, devouring his clothes in seconds, his bloodless skin yielding under their assault soon after.

What had happened to the world he’d planned to conquer? His scheme had been flawless; his intellect had foreseen it!

As millions of razor-sharp teeth ravaged his body, and his mind descended into pain and darkness, he regretted not living by his instincts after all.

Categories
random scribblings Scribblings Writing

Flash fiction contest entry

The contest allowed 100 words, and 5 prompt words were mandatory. Fox / Sox / Blue / Cold / Shiver. You could split up the word over multiple others, but not change the order of the letters.

My entry:

The bell rang. Everyone left, then Tess slipped the card into Steve’s desk tray. She shivered, thinking about tomorrow. Would he like it? She’d tried her hardest, rubbing out the wonky lovehearts. She’d also pasted fox pictures onto it, cut from Grandpa’s encyclopaedia. (Steve liked foxes. See? She’d thought this through!)

Then she’d spent ages writing the words. The front: Be my Valentine. Inside: Roses = red, Violets = blue. Once I was cold, now I’m hot for you. (Something grownups said on Mummy’s TV shows.) Then she’d signed it.

Tess

O X

Unfortunately, their Kindergarten teacher checked desk trays each morning.

What do you think, dear Reader?

And have a love-filled day yourself 🙂

  • KRidwyn
Categories
teaching Work Writing

I wrote this!

Check it out – about a seven-year-old student – who I teach once a week! – who was published recently 🙂

Cool, yes?

Have a great day yourself, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn